Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ige, Abercrombie differ on preschool funding, Maui GMO foes submit more signatures, church-state lawsuit advances, Kim leads #HI01 race, Kauai talks trash, Hawaii County's traveling mayor, regents interview UH presidential prospects, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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David Ige, Neil Abercrombie © 2014 All Hawaii News

In a stark policy difference with Gov. Neil Abercrombie, state Sen. David Ige said Tuesday he opposes a constitutional amendment that would allow public money to be spent on private preschool. Ige, who had been undecided on the issue, said he has philosophical concerns about taxpayer money going to private preschools. Star-Advertiser.

An activist group that focuses on issues of separation of church and state won a judge's approval Tuesday to continue its lawsuit against two churches accused of underpaying by more than $1 million for use of Hawaii public school facilities. Star-Advertiser.

A lawsuit accusing two churches of underpaying rent for school facilities is moving ahead. But an attorney for the churches says the suit only hurts the schools and its students. Hawaii News Now.

Donna Mercado Kim continues to lead the crowded contest for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, according to a Civil Beat Poll. But Mark Takai remains in the hunt, trailing Kim 30 percent to 24 percent among voters who said they intend to vote Democrat in the primary.

The Primary Election is less than 75 days away and the once “sleepy” contest for Lieutenant Governor has been energized by a veteran Democratic challenger now in the race. Hawaii Public Radio.

The first state Democratic Party chairwoman from Maui and the first Neighbor Island woman to hold the post said Tuesday that "we'll have to wait and see" on the party's legal challenge to Hawaii's open primary system. Maui News.

The two men vying to become the next University of Hawaii president interviewed for the job Tuesday, amid criticism over one of the finalists’ qualifications and the search process. The university’s Board of Regents interviewed the finalists, retired Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski and interim President David Lassner, during a meeting that was open to the public. Associated Press.

The two finalists vying to be the next University of Hawaii president tried to distinguish themselves as the better candidate for the job Tuesday in separate public interviews before the Board of Regents. Star-Advertiser.

The search for the University of Hawaii’s next president could end as early as next week. David Lassner and Frank Wiercinski are the remaining candidates competing for the job. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other supporters of federal recognition for Native Hawaiians are applauding a proposal that came down from the Secretary of the Interior. The advanced notice explores the possibility of a government-to-government relationship between the federal government and the Native Hawaiian community. Hawaii News Now.

The new We Vote Hawaii has a new logo. An online voting process was held to select a design to represent the nonprofit organization formerly known as Kids Voting Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Company’s CEO Richard Rosenblum says he will retire from the company within a year. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Co. President and CEO Richard Rosenblum has notified the company that he plans to retire within a year.  Rosenblum, 64, has headed up the state's dominant utility since 2009. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii-based military command responsible for finding, recovering and identifying missing-in-action service members is being investigated for money spent on a gravel road in Papua New Guinea. Associated Press.

State roundup for May 28. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu Police Department reports on officers’ use of force suggest that such incidents have increased in recent years. Among those affected are some of the most disenfranchised citizens in the islands, including Native Hawaiians, the homeless and the mentally ill. But the reports, obtained by Civil Beat under a public records request, are heavily redacted and police officials refuse to explain the increased use of force and what, if anything, is being done about it.

City officials say they're close to reaching an agreement with the union representing roughly 200 emergency services workers on a scheduling plan that they hope will curb staff shortage and overtime problems that forced them to shut down shifts at four ambulance stations during Easter weekend last month. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply, under fire in recent years for rate hikes and errors in customer billing, is fighting back against an effort by the Honolulu City Council to exert greater control over its operations and change the composition of its policy-making board. Civil Beat.

The surfing world's first billionaire has charged into the lineup of landowners with prime oceanfront views of Oahu's North Shore surf mecca. Nicholas Woodman, the surfer who founded camera maker GoPro Inc., has bought two properties in the Sunset Beach area — including one parcel that has set a rec­ord price for residential property on the North Shore. Star-Advertiser.

The city will have to pay a Palolo woman $25,000 after she hit a pothole while riding her bicycle. But that’s actually a small amount compared to what the city pays every year to settle lawsuits. KHON2.

Air Canada said Tuesday that its leisure carrier subsidiary, Air Canada rouge, is expanding to Hawaii with what will be the only nonstop flight between Toronto and Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

As he has in recent years, Mayor Billy Kenoi spent on average one day a week someplace other than in the county he governs. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Civil Defense
will test its ability to communicate during disasters as part of this year’s statewide hurricane drill, said Administrator Darryl Oliveira. Tribune-Herald.

Faced with a petition for state management of water taken from the Keauhou aquifer, the Hawaii County Water Board is putting money into measures that would shore up its own monitoring of the resource. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Clerk's Office has 10 days to verify 9,376 additional signatures submitted Tuesday in support of a citizens' initiative for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms in Maui County. Maui News.

Members of the SHAKA Movement rallied in front of the county building in Wailuku today before delivering a final list of signatures to the County Clerk’s office in support of a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically-engineered organisms or GMOs in Maui County. Maui Now.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is keeping a neutral stance on the GMO debate as a petition has surfaced seeking a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically-engineered organisms or GMOs in Maui County. Maui Now.

Holding stacks of papers, members of the SHAKA Movement (an anti-genetically modified organism or GMO group) confidently marched into the Maui County Clerk's office Tuesday afternoon. The effort marks the final push to get a proposed GMO ban on the general election ballot in November. Hawaii News Now.

The Maui County Council on Tuesday unanimously passed on first reading a $604 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Maui News.

A proposal to redevelop Makena Beach & Golf Resort cleared a major hurdle Tuesday as the Maui Planning Commission voted to grant owner ATC Makena Holdings LLC a special management area use permit for the proposed project. Maui News.

Kauai

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it has reached a legal settlement with Tahiti Nui Enterprises for its “longstanding failure” to close three large capacity cesspools at its Hanalei restaurant and bar nearly eight years after discovering the violations. Garden Island.

There was a bit of trash talk exchanged between county and state officials during a state Board of Agriculture meeting held Tuesday. the discussion focused on how county officials are seeking to address the island’s disposal needs for the next several decades as space in the county’s landfill in Kekaha gradually shrinks. Garden Island.